In an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus, in mid-July, Governor Holcomb mandated by executive order that everyone in Indiana ages 8 and older must wear masks or face coverings in indoor public spaces, public transport, and outdoors when it is not possible to social distance.
In September, the governor extended this order to last through October 17. The extension of the mask mandate is meant to help Indiana shift to the fifth and final phase of the state’s plan to reopen after closures due to the coronavirus pandemic.
While the mask-wearing policy has been controversial for some Hoosiers, State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box has said that wearing masks is one of the reasons why the state can continue reopening. She has explained that cloth masks help reduce the transfer of respiratory droplets, thus stemming the virus’s transmission. The seven-day positivity rate in Indiana has dropped from 6.4% when the state’s mask mandate began July 27 to 3.9% on Sept. 16th.
You will not incur a criminal penalty for failing to wear the mask, although Holcomb initially wanted the omission to be a class B misdemeanor. He removed the penalty after facing a backlash.
According to the Indiana Department of Health, as of this writing, there have been:
- 131,000 positive tests in the state
- 3,534 deaths
- 2.2 million tests administered.
Stage 5 Reopening
Indiana is now in Stage 5 of the reopening. Although Hoosiers must continue wearing masks and maintain good social distancing habits, the state has made the following steps toward reopening:
- Removing limitations for social gatherings and meetings. Organizers of events with more than 500 people must first submit a written safety plan to the local health department.
- Restaurants, bars, nightclubs may open at full capacity, although with appropriate social distancing.
- Indoor and outdoor venues to open at full capacity.
- Senior centers may reopen according to Indiana Family and Social Services Administration guidelines.
- Personal services, gyms, fitness centers, and workout facilities may resume normal operations.
- Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are required to provide visitation opportunities.